From Pipi’s Pasture: Diane and the pack rat | CraigDailyPress.com

From Pipi’s Pasture: Diane and the pack rat

Diane Prather

Diane Prather

There are always lots of mice, ground squirrels, skunks and raccoons around Pipi's Pasture, but this summer is the first time since moving here that we've had an encounter with a pack rat. That doesn't mean that we haven't dealt with them before, and one thing is for sure — pack rats are smart animals. They are hard to catch.

This seems to be the year for pack rats. Early in the summer our grandson Jaycee, who lives in Vernal, told us that a pack rat had gotten under the hood of his pickup truck and chewed up some wires. He and his dad had set several traps in the truck, but the rat kept stealing the bait, yet not getting caught.

Then my brother Duane had a rat make a nest under the hood of his car, then his pickup truck. One day Duane drove his truck to Craig and we joked about a scenario in which the rat rode along. However, I didn't find it one bit humorous when I discovered that we had a pack rat in our house.

My husband Lyle dubbed the experience "Diane and the Pack Rat." It all started one night when I heard noises in the top part of the house. It sounded as if an animal was walking on the roof or perhaps in the attic. Whatever it was, there was a lot of noise. It kept me awake part of the night.

After a few nights I started hearing noises in the laundry room, where we also store household tools and such on shelves. There were ratting sounds. I turned on the lights. It got quiet. I couldn't see anything. Then I started finding items that had been knocked onto the floor — a package of light bulbs, a game that was stored on a top shelf.

I knew that a pack rat had probably gotten into the house. It was a chilling thought — not that I'm afraid of rodents, but I don't like the idea of them scurrying around the house, chewing up stuff and making a mess.

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Lyle investigated. He found that the hose in the dryer vent had deteriorated over the years, and in all probability that's where the rat gained entrance. He replaced the hose. At least nothing else would get in the house. We set a trap. We put out bait. I grumbled at the "barn cats" that spend time around the house.

Then one morning when I was getting ready to do chores, I noticed that some framed pictures had been knocked off a bookcase that is catty-cornered and tight up against a wall. Some of the pictures had fallen behind the bookcase. I peeked over the bookcase. There in a corner, all cuddled up in a ball, was a grayish-brown animal, peeking up at me.

I had a large coffee can (that I use to measure grain) and a small bucket next to the door, all ready to do chores. I got the broom. My plan was to scoop the rat into the can, cover it with the bucket, and throw the rat outside. I got the rat in the can just fine, but I didn't have enough hands to hang onto the broom and grab the bucket. In the process, the rat escaped and a wall clock fell down on my head.

Several restless nights passed. Rustling noises kept me awake. I left lights on. I began noticing some peculiarities regarding a philodendron-type houseplant in the enclosed front porch of the house. First a big leaf disappeared, leaving a long stem. Then the stem got shorter and shorter until one morning the stem was gone. It dawned on me that the rat had eaten up my plant. We set out some bait near the plant.

A couple of days later, my hero Lyle found the rat in the hallway. End of story. Lesson learned? Check the dryer vent periodically to make sure there is no way for a rodent to gain entry into the house.

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